Several GPs and pharmacists have raised concerns that they have yet to obtain stocks of the flu vaccine. Delays in deliveries have forced practices to cancel fully booked clinics.
Chair of Newcastle and North Tyneside LMC, Dr Alan McCubbin, said vaccine supplies were coming through to GP surgeries and local community pharmacies in “fits and starts”.
“Some sites have received significant amounts of vaccines, some have yet to receive any,” he added.
GPs are now facing a high volume of requests from worried patients, who are unable to access the vaccine as usual.
However, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson has insisted “There is no national shortage of the flu vaccine, with enough doses for 30 million people to be vaccinated in England. It is completely wrong to suggest otherwise.”
“The vaccine is already being delivered for those in at-risk groups, including the over-65s, and this will continue throughout the winter months, so there is still time for those eligible people to get their vaccinations.”
In an attempt to alleviate the pressure on surgeries and pharmacies, a new initiative spearheaded by supermarket group Asda has been launched to deliver the flu jab service.
Asda has announced a drive-through flu jab facility, specifically for those most at risk of catching coronavirus and being severely affected by it. It offers the flu vaccine, free of charge, to anyone eligible. This includes elderly people, pregnant women, those with underlying health conditions and frontline health workers.
“The sad truth is that there is an increased mortality risk if you catch COVID-19 when you already have the flu,” said Asda’s lead pharmacist Maq Din.
“As a result, some of our most vulnerable members of society are at twice the risk compared to others, which is why we are encouraging everyone to get a flu jab this year; it is more vital now than ever,” Din added.
The stores offering this service are: Accrington, Bodmin, Eastbourne, Gosport, Hartlepool, Hyde, Nuneaton, Old Kent Road, Oldbury, Pilsworth, Sheffield, South Shields and Wakefield Durkar.
“We are putting a number of measures in place at our drive-through flu jab centres, so patients can be assured that it is safe to visit – and they won’t even need to leave their car to get a jab,” Din advised.
“Contact time will be kept to a minimum in order to allow pharmacists to be as efficient as possible.”
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